Thursday, January 28, 2016

A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES!


Today there are robins everywhere! The yard is filled with 'em! A darting, scratching, red-breasted multitude, eager, animated, as perkily alive and welcome as the warm sunshine streaming through the sycamores. 

Perhaps their visitation is a direct result of so glorious a wealth of late-January sunshine…or maybe the sunshine itself is here because the robins are out and about and have willed it into being through the sheer natural force of their ebullient spirit. 

Who really knows the truth about such matters? But in the strong, lustrous light, their plump breasts glow a rich, fiery orange, almost the hue of some of that rusty looking gold they pull from the Black Hills of the Dakotas.

I do know they're wholeheartedly appreciated!

Immediately after New Year's, I began a necessary three-plus weeks of various eye-prep measures prior to upcoming surgery. During that time, I've been unable to see anything clearly beyond about a 4-inch focus distance. Robin throngs busily investigating the yard remained indiscernible. Even individuals on the ground directly below a window were unrecognizable as living creatures—merely moving blobs which might have been birds, squirrels, or wind-blown leaves.

Thankfully, that obligatory ordeal is over. I'll have my surgeries in February. And today, I can again see clearly…though I simply don't have sufficient words to tell you what a lovely and joyful blessing the sight of all these jaunty robins are to my weary, beauty-starved eyes.  

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A RIVERBANK CHRISTMAS EVE


Christmas Eve. It's sunny here today and warm. The river is up a bit from last night's heavy rains—the first rise in at least a couple of months. The ground is saturated, the brown leaves a soggy carpet. Nothing like the snowy scene above.

As a district manager, Myladylove had to go in for a half-day's work. After all, those desperate folks out doing last-minute gift and grocery shopping must be able to get into their bank and withdraw extra cash. She'll be home sometime after noon.

There are non-stop carols and Christmas classics on the stereo. I've been wrapping a couple of items and am getting ready to assemble a tricycle for Granddaughter Anya. She's 18 months old so this will be her first Christmas that she's big enough to enjoy—and of course I'm doing the grandpa thing and giving her a proper sackful! 

After trike assembly I'm making a quick run to the nearby grocery for two or three items. Then late this afternoon we'll head over to join the daughter, son-in-law, and Anya for a Christmas Eve service at their church—with a chicken-and-dumplin's supper back at their house to follow.

In spite of all this, I'm having a hard time mustering up any real Christmas spirit and don't know why. It isn't the mild weather. And not for lack of anything that I can discern. There's an abundance of gifts to go around. Great meals ahead. Family and friends to share everything. Everyone's health is good. I have love and loved ones. Nothing is amiss.

By any standards we're mightily blessed. I'm mightily blessed! Rich in life, and I don't mean monetarily. But I have all I need and more—way more. And I have nothing to complain about, and really, no complaints.

Yet…the usual seasonal excitement is missing. Which probably says something about me, about my lack of, well, whatever. God knows I'm grateful for all I have. I adore Christmas, for what it is and what it represents—a season of hope and joy and celebration of that long-ago birth which forms the basis of my faith. And I don't want to be this way, feel so uncharacteristically empty. Not depressed, just, um, flat, a bah-humbug sorta nagging, niggling mood.

Guess I need another cup or two—or six—of Christmas cheer!

Peace, joy, and blessings! Merry Christmas from Riverdaze!

____

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

EARLY BLOOMS, FRANTIC DAYS


Believe it or not, I took this forsythia shot with my iPhone a few days ago. Our weather has been mild so far, though not unseasonably so for this time of a year. Yet apparently it's warm enough to fool several of my hillside forsythias into thinking spring has arrived already—and therefore high time to put forth a few bright and cheery blooms!   

Things are getting pretty frantic around here. I'm still cutting wood, or trying to, when weather and time permits. But I've pretty much given up on doing anything more re. a number of unfinished details on the kitchen remodel for the next couple of months. 

This is due not merely to the holidays, but the fact I have to go in for eye surgery in January and will be out of commission, sightwise, pretty much through February. Which means I have to get two months's worth of columns written and stockpiled before New Year's Day…and with Christmas and all, that's going to be really tough. I still have almost none of my shopping done. Plus Myladylove's birthday, and our anniversary, are both this coming Saturday.

I could really use an extra three months!

Yup, frantic is the word…    

Saturday, December 5, 2015

FOG & FIREWOOD


A foggy morning here along the river—as several mornings this past week have been. Some arrived with fog so dense and thick I could see neither the trees on the island across from the cottage, nor even the riffle a few yards upstream from the bottom of the front deck's steps.

I'm now in woodcutting rather than remodeling mode—a fear of freezing during the coming winter being the deciding factor. By my best calculations, we currently have only enough wood cut and split to get us into early-January. At least two additional cords are needed, and I'd feel better knowing I had three or four at the ready. Luckily I probably have that much in ash logs on the ground, just needing to be sawed into firewood lengths and split to manageable size. That's what I'll be doing for much of today…and tomorrow…and however many days beyond that it takes to work up the logs and stockpile the reserves we need. 

For those of you wondering about the seemingly forever-ongoing kitchen redo, I'm happy to report I got the all the cabinets in, the sink plumbed, and the water turned on the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving…so we made it with more than 24 hours to spare before starting to cook the big feast. No more bathtub dishwashing! While there's still a number of things to install and do before the kitchen can be pronounced finished, it's now useable—and with any luck, most of the lacking details will be taken care of by Christmas.   

     

Monday, November 2, 2015

NON-BORING BROWN!

Autumn's annual color show is pretty much over for another year. Here along my hundred-yard portion of the river, where the dominating tree species are sycamore, hackberry, and box elder, fall never quite manages to put on that quintessential eye-catching seasonal performance. None of those expected Technicolor scenes characterized by patchwork forests, thick with various bright maples, and invariably favored by calendar publishers. 

Oh, there are a few willows and a walnut here and there to light things up with their snazzy yellows. But no blood-red swamp maples or festive-orange sassafras. The closest these corridor woodlands come to such vibrant hues are the scarlet twinnings of woodbine and the gaudy flames of poison ivy. Plus way too much invasive honeysuckle, which—at best—dons a sickly and pale yellow-green.

Instead of dazzle my home-turf trees deal in subtlety. Especially the sycamores, who often decide to retain their oversized leaves for a few more weeks. You have to adjust your eye and your thinking to fully appreciate their richness. 

But in earliest soft glimmer of morning, with a backlight assist from the sun, or some blue sky for background—even simply floating atop the water—they are, unquestionably, beautiful. 

Who says brown is boring!        



         

Sunday, October 4, 2015

TIMES A'CHANGING


Times are a'changing. It's increasingly starting to look like autumn here along the river. Not much in the way of color yet, as other than poison ivy and Virginia creeper, there are few early-turning sorts of trees and shrubs hereabouts to dazzle with gaudy leaves. A few bits of anemic yellow on the box elders, the odd rusty brown dinner-plate-sized leaf on a sycamore—but otherwise, the landscape is still mostly green. Faded and frayed, perhaps, but green.

The real color will come in a week or two, maybe three. Somewhere around the 26th of the month is usually the peak.

And yet…there's no mistaking the new season's takeover. The look and feel, sound and smell and mood is definitely autumnal, from the noisy flocks of Canada geese regularly winging overhead, to the dew-damp morning air carrying hints of windfall apples and distant woodsmoke.

Yesterday was rainy and cool. No, make that cold—the day's high never managing to edge beyond the mid-40s˚F. Cold enough that Myladylove built the season's first fire in the woodstove. Which felt good and was most welcome, as it took a decidedly uncomfortable chill from the house while we worked between showers to finish a handful of small jobs on our endless remodeling list. 

Today promises to be fairly sunny and reach into the low-70s˚; so no woodfire will be needed. But a milepost has been passed nevertheless. The times are definitely a'changing.              

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

TAKING A DAY OFF


Still working on the remodel…though Myladylove and I decided to play hooky from our list of planned tasks Sunday for a much-needed break. 

Instead of painting a wall and a pair of doors, custom building an over-the-stove kitchen shelf, and assembling a pile of Ikea cabinets, we went for a long drive—an all-day, 200 mile loop that took us north and west, along bucolic two-lane blacktops and narrow country byways, around a rather distant large lake I've known and fished since boyhood, and through more than a dozen small towns and rural villages.

Along the way we had ice cream cones from our favorite soft-serve stand, stopped to browse in a couple of craft shops, and ate a dandy dinner at a little restaurant overlooking the lakeshore, where we further indulged with great wedges of homemade pie…peanut-butter cream for Myladylove, rhubarb for me. 

Afterwards I snapped a few photos—of gulls and geese and the sprawling autumn landscape below a twilit sky, dramatically lit by the low sun against a band of dark clouds, which momentarily seemed to threaten a weather change. Soon, however, the sun set, the clouds dispersed, and twilight became darkness. We happily zigged and zagged our way south and east to home along a complicated-but-familiar series of backroads.

All told, a fine day's escape and the best sort of impromptu adventure. Today and yesterday, though, it's been back to work. Guilt and desperation see to that…